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Shading with the Adobe Illustrator CS5 Mesh Object

Article Description

Simple lines can convey straightforward ideas, but subtlety often requires shading. Brian Wood, contributor to Adobe Illustrator CS5 Classroom in a Book, demonstrates using mesh objects to add gradients to curves. Brian shares his best tips for saving steps and preventing headaches as you work with mesh objects.

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Moving the Points of a Gradient Mesh

Moving the Points of a Gradient Mesh

In addition to editing the color, you can determine the location of the mesh points and mesh lines. This is where some of the real power of using gradient meshes comes into play. By moving mesh points, you can distort the gradient:

  1. After selecting the mesh object with the Selection tool, select the Mesh tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Position the pointer over a central point in the mesh. Notice that the plus sign disappears from the pointer.
  3. Click-and-drag the center point of the mesh a bit down and to the right. Notice that the mesh lines follow and the color in the center shifts down and to the right. This is because the color is associated with that mesh point.
  4. To undo the move, choose Edit > Undo Move Mesh Point (see Figure 6).
  5. Figure 6 Dragging a mesh point.

You can also move an entire mesh patch (a series of mesh points) by using the Direct Selection tool.

  1. Select the Direct Selection tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Click-and-drag at some place where there are no mesh points. Notice that you're dragging a mesh patch.
  3. Choose Edit > Undo Move.
  4. Click in a mesh patch again (between mesh points).
  5. Shift-click other mesh points that are currently deselected, to add them to the selection.
  6. Click in the middle of the select points and drag upward, downward, left, or right. Watch what's happening to the mesh patch onscreen (see Figure 7).
  7. Choose Edit > Undo Move.
  8. Figure 7 Dragging a mesh patch.

Next, let's move the mesh points on the mesh lines to distort the gradient:

  1. Select the Mesh tool in the Tools panel.
  2. Shift-click a mesh point and drag it horizontally. Notice that with the Shift key held down, you can only move the mesh point along the mesh line horizontally.
  3. To undo the move, choose Edit > Undo Move Mesh Point.
  4. Try the same process, but dragging vertically.
  5. Choose Edit > Undo Move Mesh Point (see Figure 8).
  6. Figure 8 Constraining the movement of a mesh point.

4. Adding or Deleting Points in a Gradient Mesh | Next Section Previous Section